Trasvía, our town, is part of the municipality of Comillas whose charm is such that by simply visiting or dwelling it for a short period of time one is able to experience and to feel how naturally whimsical this little town truly is.
Rising about 60 metres above sea level, Trasvía is surrounded by the Cantabrian Sea, to its North; by the hills of Monte Corona which include the towns of Ruiseñada and Rioturbio; to its South, by Rubárcena and, to its East, by Comillas, also known as the Archbishop´s Village, which contains an enclave where one can explore the roots of the Catalonian Modernism.
In adittion to some already excellent sightseeing, Trasvía finds itself immersed within the boundaries of the National Park of Oyambre, a recognised Ecologic European Reserve, whose merits attribute to its biodiversity as much as to its being part of the migration route traditionally chosen by many species of birds fulfilling their journey South. Outstanding places like Ría de la Rabia and Playa de Oyambre are two of the enchanting sites of the reserve.
Unluckily, the foundation of Trasvía has never been oficially recorded. Nevertheless, we know for sure that the origins of settlement in Trasvía can be safely set sometime in the 14th Century. At that time, sailors from the flourishing villages of Comillas and San Vicente de la Barquera were devoted to the mastery of whale-hunting and happened to find the perfect spot for it relatevely close to their own homes. The naturally shaped port the bay of Oyambre itself made up, just at the point where the beach joins the cape Cabo Gerra, was esteemed by those sailors as perfect location. The neccesary watchtower that needed to be built and that worked back then as their meeting point was raised by the mouth of Ría de la Rabia, opposite to the cape. The local sailors used to hunt the whales on their ships and then moor by the shore in Oyambre´s bay. Once they reached land with their catch, each prey was dragged through the sand to the “Harpoon House” where they also stored their weapons and manufactured whale oil. El Pájaro Amarillo, a monument to a “Yellow bird”, which can be appreciated when walking along the beach, was quite recently erected just on top of the foundations of this old working room. A reminder of this past activity appeared not long ago beneath the surface of the Oyambre´s dunes where the remains of whales were found across an area that is now locally called “The Whales´ Cemenetery”.
The fields over whom Trasvia now rests were one of the closest access points to the watchtower over the river´s mouth and to their “Harpoon house” on the beach. That is, reportedly, why those sailors decided to start settling down as it was this terrain that best assured them a clear point with close access to rush down to the ships as soon as they saw one of the whales approaching the shore. Also, if any sailors fell ill, they had a base in which to return to quickly in order to attend to them and to leave him resting and recovering whilst the other fished. Slowly, year after year, the improvents that were carried out to this provisional settlement allowed for this area to become the sailors´ permanent dwelling and a unitarian community were they settled with their whole families.
Trasvía´s hystory is also linked to Santiago de Compostela´s Pilgrimage Path, to which the town owes its name. As with many other coastal villages or towns in this region of the North of Spain, -for instance, places like Tramalón and Trasierra-, Trasvía holds the prefix “Tra-” in its given name. This name refers to its condition of being a town “by the path”, with “Tra-” meaning “by or behind the path”. When the piligrims arrived to Comillas, as they still do to this date, they had to walk up the hill to Trasvía in order to acces from there the river where the crossing boats were waiting to get them across to the next town: El Tejo.
Towards the twightlight of the nineteenth century, Trasvía and its own evolution were inevitably related to the foundation and subsequent evolution of the Compañía Trasantlántica (The Trasatlantic Company). The TC ended up becoming one of the major shipping companies throughout the entire Spanish kingdom of merchandise between Spain and The Americas. La Compañía Trasatlántica was started by the Marquis of Comillas, who also became the architect of the great developement that followed the florishing years of his business in this area. The company enriched the fates of the inhabitants of Comillas and its surroundings. For instance, most of the men that lived in Trasvía at that time enlisted themselves as crew to the visiting merchant ships.
Out of this period, there is a man which is widely considered, to date, to be the most representative of that era of early 20th century Trasvian history. His name was Nando and he was known as a globetrotter that had travelled around the world several times in those helm-steered ships of the Compañía Trasatlántica. His trips and adventures allowed him to visit many places and get to learn several languages. He enjoyed writing about his experiences too and it has been said that he got to fill hundreds of pages with stories and anecdotes. Personally, it has also been claimed that he had such a great memory that he could recite El Quijote by Cervantes by heart and that he was so fond of the book that he decided to travel all the way to Castilla La Mancha so that he could visit the emblematic town of El Toboso.
Since the beginning of the 19th century, cattle raising and agriculture have been the two main economic activities of Trasvía. So much so that not only were there several farms in the town, despite its rather small size, but also there were animals ever being raised in each and every house,for the family´s personal subsistence. Raising cattle had double objectives: on the one hand, they provided the families and the market with beef along with milk and other dairy products and, on the other hand, they were used as a fundamental working force in the fields; they were used for carrying heavy loads, such as sawed logs from the forests, for pulling the ploughs and for obteining the manure that fertilized the working land.
We would like as well to share with the readers the informal way of referring to us, the inhabitants of this town. Colloquially, we, people from Trasvía, are called “Cámbaros” (Land crabs); this form of address comes from an old anecdote: As recent as a couple of decades ago, the land crabs could be counted in the river, which passes by our town, by the hundreds. When the sea was rough enough as to force the water into the estuary, the land crabs in Ría de la Rabia ran out of the water and into the fields where they gathered until the sea was calm again. This picturesque image was so striking and so tipical for so long that the local name for the land crabs, which is “cámbaros”, ended up becoming the colloquial name given by the inhabitants of the neighbouring towns to every person who was born or lives in Trasvía.
Approximately, 150 people live in Trasvía, allthough in summer its population triples itself as many people who live away from Trasvía come back to their home town faithfully, year after year, to enjoy their vacations. Recently Trasvía has been welcoming, more and more, new neighbours, who despite their not being native, have decided to move to Trasvía or to buy their second residence in the town after they fell in love with it and its tranquility when they first visited it.